This week has been quite a forgettable one for the Carolina Hurricanes, so this week’s Systems Analyst is going to be a positive one. Okay? Okay.
In what turned out to be Carolina’s best performance of the week, a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jackets in Columbus, the first goal came on the power play in the form of Sebastian Aho’s second goal against the Jackets in as many games.
The finish is quality, but Aho’s teammates—specifically Elias Lindholm—deserve much of the credit for making this play happen.
The chance comes from a Jaccob Slavin one-timer off of a pass from Brett Pesce. This is somewhat of an ill-advised shot, though, since Boone Jenner is clearly in the lane to block the attempt.
The shot (shockingly) gets blocked, but bounces straight to Pesce on the left of the frame for another shot. Bounces will be a key theme in this play, so remember this one.
Notice also how most of the players on the ice seem to not be expecting Pesce’s shot, including Sergei Bobrovsky. He’s still in position for the Slavin shot that never came through, and while he can see Pesce through a clear lane, he is not 100% set for the shot.
Bobrovsky manages to make the save, but instead of having his chest in front of the shot like he would have with Slavin’s shot, he gets his blocker out to stop it, leaving him vulnerable to a rebound or bounce off a surrounding player.
The latter rings true as Pesce’s shot deflects off of Bobrovsky’s blocker and into the chest of Lindholm. You can see the puck in midair just past his shoulder.
Lindholm now has a choice: he can either settle the puck on the ice and lose the limited time he has, or he can bat it out of the air with no real idea of where it may end up. Not exactly an ideal selection.
Lindholm makes the best of the situation, batting the puck out of the air wisely towards the front of the net, as you can see the puck passing in front of Bobrovsky’s crease in the above still.
Also, swing-and-a-miss, Dalton Prout.
So we’ve got a mixture of one part skill and two parts luck, what does that leave us with? An easy goal for Aho, as the young Finn easily pots the goal for his 12th of the year.
For all of the gripes about Lindholm’s game, he is still a very skilled player with raw talent to be molded. He got somewhat lucky on this play, beating Prout to the floating puck and having it go to Aho’s stick, but do not underestimate his hockey sense.
Most players would have waited for the puck to drop, but Lindholm acted quickly and knew he had a chance to put it in the vicinity of Aho for an easy goal. Credit both of them for their positioning and Lindholm for the skill play to earn the assist.